Budget 2017 - A Direct Boost for the Smart Energy Communities Marketplace
By Brent Gilmour MCIP RPP, Executive Director, QUEST
The Smart Energy Communities marketplace is growing rapidly with 384 communities across Canada working to improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and drive economic development through community energy planning.
Budget 2017 provides a direct boost for the Smart Energy Communities marketplace through significant infrastructure and clean technology funding commitments and establishes long awaited predictable sources of revenues for cities and communities, including First Nations.
We are pleased to see that QUEST's Pre-Budget Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance contributed to informing Budget 2017. In August of 2016, QUEST put forward the following two recommendations:
QUEST Recommendation #1
Create a dedicated fund offering significant financial support for Canadian communities, organizations, and businesses to build the marketplace that serves Smart Energy Communities.
Budget 2017 offers major investments in clean technology to position Canada as a leader in the clean growth economy. This includes support for smart grid, storage and clean technology demonstration projects to bring emerging renewable energy technologies to commercialization. With $630 million over 4 years to support the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, there are initiatives to build capacity to foster innovation and create more sustainable cities and support green infrastructure.
As these initiatives roll out, it is equally important to remove the market barriers to the adoption of innovative solutions in the Canadian marketplace, especially for city and community scale smart energy solutions. In the fall of 2016, the Low Carbon Partnership (TLCP), which includes QUEST, Climate Smart, Sustainability Co-Lab, and The Natural Step, presented to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance.
The presentation emphasized the importance of helping Canadian businesses drive clean growth, reduce GHG emissions, and foster a prosperous, green, and healthy future. Companies and communities across the country need help cutting emissions, and have to be equipped with the resources, expertise, and tools to innovate and compete.
Informed by the TLCP suggestions, a recommendation included in December 2016’s Report of the Standing Committee on Finance confirmed close alignment between federal priorities and the objectives of the TLCP: “RECOMMENDATION 71: That the Government of Canada engage, support and bring together Canadian businesses and organizations to find innovative solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
QUEST Recommendation #2
Create a dedicated funding program for communities to develop and implement Community Energy Plans, working with provincial programs to support underserved communities and overcome implementation challenges.
In Budget 2016, $75 million for local governments to address climate change was announced and to be delivered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). FCM recently launched the Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program which provides funding, training and resources to help municipalities adapt to the impacts of climate change and GHGs, including funding for Community Energy Plans.
Building on that commitment, Budget 2017 offers additional support in a number of ways, including $300 million over 11 years to launch the Smart Cities Challenge to encourage cities and communities to adopt new and innovative approaches to city-building; $600 million to reduce diesel fuel reliance and improve energy security in Indigenous communities across Canada, including in the Arctic; and $20.1 billion over 11 years for transit infrastructure funding.
This is a snapshot of the significant investments that have been committed to support the advancement of Smart Energy Communities. I encourage you to review budget assessments prepared by industry and nonprofit organizations on key topics related to the Smart Energy Communities marketplace, including:
High Performance Building (The Canadian Green Building Council)
Alternative Fuel Refueling (Canadian Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance)
Renewable Natural Gas (Canadian Gas Association)
To take advantage of the investments directed to the Smart Energy Communities marketplace made in Budget 2017, I encourage you to join the QUEST network by learning more about the benefits of becoming a Subscriber, get involved with a Caucus or Working Group near you, learn more about our online resources and events, and join us at our national conference and tradeshow QUEST 2017 - Smart Energy Communities on the Hill taking place November 6-8, Delta Ottawa.